Originating in 18th century Japan, shou sugi ban is a method of preserving wood by charring it with fire. The wood (usually Japanese Cedar) is burned until the surface is charred, and then coated with natural oil. The result is a scorched finish with a rich charcoal black color. The surface of the wood can take on a crackled or alligator skin look depending on the type of wood and the burn intensity. Some other popular types of wood to use are red cedar, douglas fir, cyprus, pine and oak. You can see a DIY version in this YouTube video by SoCraftastic!